Some people believe when they separate, they will no longer have to deal with their former partner. However, if you have children this is usually not the reality – you remain linked as parents. Forever.
The challenge is to make the ongoing parenting relationship as manageable and constructive as possible.
Be civil to your former partner, irrespective of how he/she approaches you, but never compromise safety.
Constructive co-parenting, where it is possible and appropriate in the circumstances, involves establishing a business-like relationship with your former partner.
Some practical tips to help you are provided below.
Focus on the children, not the past relationship.
Hold meetings at a neutral location if possible.
Use the telephone, email or a communication app if a face-to-face discussion is a problem.
Consider legal advice, family dispute resolution or counselling if you have difficulties.
Be flexible – children have commitments, and special occasions will arise.
Consider special days in advance, such as Christmas and children’s birthdays.
Do not breach or allow any breach of a court order that prohibits contact with your former partner.
Being there for your children
Being there for your children is very important. Keep important routines, and develop new ones together. The challenge is to find time to do it all without falling in a heap. It may be difficult at first because of all that is happening in your life.
Inform the school of the changes and stay involved with the children’s
activities and their friends.
Don’t expect your children to look after you emotionally (you are the parent).
Don’t talk negatively about your former partner to the children.
Don’t ask your children to play ‘messenger’ between parents.
Don’t quiz your children about the other parent and what he/she is doing.
Be alert to any signs of distress including physical illnesses or changes in behaviour.
Encourage your children to attend counselling if they need to talk to someone outside the family.
Even adult children may experience intense emotions at this time.
Kids Helpline provides free, confidential telephone and online counselling for children and young people aged 5 to 25. Call 1800 55 1800 or visit www.kidshelpline.com.au
Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers are Accredited Family Law Specialists, we provide expert advice on Divorce, Separation and Parenting Orders. Call one of our friendly family lawyers today. 02 9633 1088. Offices in Sydney Surry Hills, Crows Nest & Parramatta.